Alaska Airlines ISN’T Adding Restrictions to its Visa Companion Certificate

Yesterday in the comments on the blog, eponymous coward (whom I seem to remember is responsible for originating the line that “US Airways is the official consolidator for Star Alliance premium cabin fares”) noted that the Bank of America website now listed their Alaska Airlines co-branded Visa as offering a $99+tax companion certificate valid for coach travel.

This issue raised quite a bit of concern on Milepoint.

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature companion certificate benefit is one of the real values in all of travel — every year cardholders get to take a companion along on any paid fare for $99 plus tax (it used to be $50, alas).

The key element here is that the companion ticket books into whatever fare class the paid ticket is booked in. There are no fare restrictions. There are no capacity controls. The companion even earns miles. And you can book a paid first class ticket, the companion is treated as having a paid first class ticket as well, including refundability if that applies to the paid ticket.

There is no other companion ticket quite as lucrative, and I think that Alaska undersells this benefit. For two people traveling together, it’s virtually a two for the price of one (plus a hundred bucks), no restrictions.

I’ve used it myself to buy a paid first class ticket to Hawaii, including stopping in Seattle, with the second ticket being under $150.

When I’m asked to do award bookings for folks wanting to travel to Hawaii (as part of my award booking service), I generally suggest that instead of spending miles, paying me, and possibly accepting a less than perfect itinerary — that if they live in or are close to an Alaska AIrlines city that they just get the Alaska Airlines Visa and use the companion ticket. They’ll save the miles and even earn miles, and as long as there as first class seats for sale they can use this option.

So to see restrictions ostensibly being placed on the certificates… very troubling.

However, I emailed someone at Alaska Airlines who confirmed that the coach restriction

[W]as an error on the Bank side. They’re working to get it removed.

That’s consistent with what some folks have reported on Milepoint being told by Bank of America as well.

So for now, at least, bullet dodged, and this companion ticket remains one of the very best and most lucrative tools in travel.

Incidentally, the card also offers 1000 bonus miles on each Alaska Airlines ticket purchased at It’s not otherwise a great card for spending but is worthwhile for the companion ticket which has a validity of one year — one year to issue tickets, not to travel — in the past I’ve seen 40,000 points as a signup bonus, the best offer I’m seeing currently is 25,000. And the card has been churnable as well.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The terms and conditions say that the annual fee for the Platinum Plus® account is $50, and $35 for the Preferred account. All three types of cards promise the 25,000 mile upon approval. You get more miles per $1 spent on Alaska Airline purchase with the more expensive cards, and the companion pass becomes a $50 credit for an Alaska Airlines purchase for the Platinum Plus® account and disappears completely for the Preferred account. The Board Room passes probably also disappear. You still get 1 mile/$1 spend on for all three cards. I see no way to specify the card you want online, so try calling 1-800-932-2775, and perhaps (or perhaps not) mentioning priority code VABC3G.

  2. Unfortunately, like all great things in the mileage hobby, this too might disappear. That’s usually the trend….lets pray it doesn’t

  3. “…and I think that Alaska undersells this benefit…”

    On a return OGG-SEA flight yesterday (on an F ticket where I used the companion cert), the FA hawking the BofA card went on and on and on and on about getting a [practically] 2-for-1 F Deal with the Cert.


  4. Alas, it IS true….Just received a letter in the mail today from Caroline Boren, who is the Managing Director, Loyalty Marketing and Customer Advocacy.

    $110, and ONLY on coach – no F class allowed.

  5. Bye Bye First Class Companion Certificate! Alaska has confirmed Visa companion certificates will no longer be good in first class, only coach as of Aug. 1, 2012.

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